I’ve mentioned a number of times that my interest in the history of the Robb family was originally sparked by my father’s cousin Edna Robb (1915 – 1995), daughter of Thomas Bowman Robb (1887-1963). Edna visited England from New Zealand in 1972, when I was about 16, and apparently spent some time while she was here researching her roots. I met her at a family party in Monmouth Road, East Ham, just before she left for home, when I remember her talking about our shared Scottish ancestry, and even making bold claims about our descent from Rob Roy MacGregor.
Edna left behind a collection of typewritten sheets, a copy of which we took away with us, which appeared to reproduce information from a family Bible. Frustratingly, I don’t remember her saying where she obtained these documents, whether she or someone else was responsible for transcribing them, or who was now in possession of the originals. All my efforts to find out more, which have included contacting my surviving New Zealand relatives, have so far been in vain. Somewhere out there, perhaps, is a Robb family Bible, and I live in hope that the distant relative who has it will one day happen across this blog and get in touch.
Edna’s typewritten sheets marked the beginning of my passion for genealogy. I remember poring over them when we got home, trying to make sense of the links between the generations, and recoiling with a mixture of surprise and disbelief at the claim that we were descended from Scottish aristocracy – through the supposed link with Viscount Stormont. To date, I’ve been unable to find independent confirmation of this connection, or of the related claim that my (unnamed) 4 x great grandfather was somehow involved in the 1745 Jacobite rebellion.
From Edna’s pages, I was able to construct my first Robb family tree, tracing the family back through six generations to Charles Edward Stuart Robb (1779 – 1853), who was born in Aberdeenshire and moved with his family by way of Yorkshire to London in the early 19th century. The process of reconstruction wasn’t easy. The document was obviously written by various hands – a fact that’s disguised by it being retyped – and sections are not always clearly attributed to individual authors. But it provided a crucial starting-point, which I was able to build on, especially after records began to appear online in the last decade and sites such as Ancestry and Scotland’s People made tracing one’s roots infinitely easier.
I thought it would be useful to reproduce the document in full on this site. You’ll see that it divides naturally into three sections. The first block of text (down to and including the information about the Seagers) was obviously written by my great grandfather, Charles Edward Robb (born 1851) , as it refers to William Robb (1813-1888) as his father and to Charles Edward Stuart as his grandfather. The second section, which ends with ‘20.6.80 W.Robb’ was obviously written by Charles’ father William (my great great grandfather), and includes crucial and fascinating information about the family’s roots in Fisherford, Aberdeenshire, the supposed connection with Viscount Stormont, and the clerical occupation of his uncle, Rev. William Robb. Charles then helpfully appends a note confirming when his father William wrote this ‘memorandum’.
The third section of the document is headed ‘Copied from the register in the family Bible Monday November 2nd, 1885.’ However, it was obviously updated after this, as it includes information about later events, such as William Robb’s death in 1888. This section must have been written, or copied, by Charles Edward Robb, since it refers to Fanny Sarah (Seager) Robb as ‘mother’ and describes ‘father’ (i.e. William) re-marrying (to Marianne Mansfield Palmer) in 1854. The sub-sections, separated by lines, helpfully provide details of the births, marriages and deaths of four generations. The sub-sections give details in turn about: Charles Edward Stuart Robb and his wife Margaret Ricketts Monteith; their children; William Robb and Fanny Sarah Seager and their children; William Robb and Marianne Mansfield Palmer and their children; Charles Edward Robb and his wife Louisa Bowman; the children of Charles and Louisa, ending with the birth of Arthur Ernest Robb (my grandfather) in 1897.
The original document must have been updated for the last time in or after 1905, since the last event it records is the death of Charles’ wife Lousia (my great grandmother) in that year. Since the last contributor to the document was Charles, I suspect that the original and/or the family Bible is in the possession of one of his descendants. My grandfather, Arthur Ernest Robb, was the youngest child of a large family, and doesn’t appear to have inherited much in the way of family documents or heirlooms from his father. Of his older brothers, Charles William, a Royal Marine, died in Aden in 1904 and Thomas Bowman emigrated to New Zealand and similarly appears not have inherited any documents. That leaves Joseph John (born 1880) who married Alice and had a son Arthur (that’s the extent of my knowledge) and David Edward, who married Margaret Everard and had three children Charles, Frank and Enid (and whom I wrote about in these posts). It seems likely that any family Bible or related documents would be in the hand of Joseph’s or David’s descendants.
Here, then, is the document in full:
Grandfather: Charles Edward Stuart Robb. Born in Aberdeenshire.
Grandmother: Margaret Ricketts Monteith. Married at St. Mungo’s
Glasgow, 15th October 1802.
Father: William Robb. Born at Richmond, Yorkshire 25th October 1813.
Married Fanny Sarah Seager at St. George the Martyr, Queen Street,
Bloomsbury, London, 23rd May 1836, who was born 22nd November,
1814. She was the daughter of Samuel Hurst Seager and Fanny
his wife formerly Fowle. Her Brothers and Sisters were:
Samuel Hurst Seager )
Henry Fowle Seager )
Elizabeth Seager ) These are all in New Zealand.
Edward William Seager )
and Julia Seager who married Charles Lambert who is one
of the Clerks to the Commissioner of Lunacy, Whitehall
I don’t know much about my own Uncles and Aunts but I know my Father’s eldest brother Revd. William Robb was for some time Professor of Greek in the College of St .Andrews, Fifeshire. He never was married. I had an Uncle James who on my Uncle William’s death took possession of the property in Fisherford in Aberdeenshire and left children how many I don’t know, but have heard that James, the eldest went to America many years since. I had also an Uncle George who died many years ago leaving children but I don’t know how many. I had also an Aunt called Penelope, but with the exception of my Uncle William I never saw any of them or heard anything from them. The last I remember of my Uncle William is when I was 3 or 4 years of age seeing him on a visit to my Father’s at Malton in Yorkshire, when he stopped some time and used to take me on his knee and tell me to be a good boy and he would make a Gentleman of me. Since that time when he left Malton to return home I never heard anything of him till on my Father’s death in 1853 I found among his papers a letter from Bishop Law, Prime of Scotland telling him of the death of my Uncle which happened about 1838. My brothers and sisters who lived to grow up were:-
Charles Edward who was born in 1809 and died in 1836 (Sept.)
Matilda who was born in 1806 and died in 1870.
George William born 13th October 1811. Died of influenza 1848.
Elizabeth born 1820 (21st June), died 1863.
(I think these dates are right) and
John who I believe is now living, born 3rd March 1816. I say
I believe he is living but have not seen him for 3 or 4
years nor would he ever let me know where to find him.
I believe he is in London as I am told he has been seen.
My mother Margaret Ricketts Monteith was the only daughter of John Monteith and Matilda his wife who was the daughter of Viscount Stormont who was engaged as well as my Father’s father in the affair of Prince Charles attempt to gain the crown 1745/6.
The above is a copy of a Memorandum written by my Father on the 20th June, 1880.
Charles E. Robb
COPIED FROM THE REGISTER IN THE FAMILY BIBLE MONDAY NOV.2ND, 1885
Charles Robb, married Glasgow 15, Oct. 1802. Died 10th June
1853. Age 72 years. Buried St. John’s, Waterloo Road.
Margaret Monteith, Died Decr. 1st. 1843. Buried St. Martins
in the Fields. Age 62 years.
Matilda Born Aberdeen, Sunday March 17th, Baptized March 31st
1805, St Pauls Chapel, Married 1860, Frederick King.
Died August 26th, 1870.
George William, Born at Alloa Saturday 8th November, Baptized
Nov. 23rd 1806. Died February 26, 1807.
Isabella Maria. Born 15 April 1808, Died 7 May 1808 at Kilmarnock
Charles Edward. Born at Whitby Wednesday 7 February, Baptized
Feb 21st 1810. Died 27 September 1836. Age 26 years.
Buried at St.Martin in the Fields.
George William. Born at Richmond, Yorkshire, Sunday 13 October
baptized 8 Nov. 1811, Died 8th December 1847. Age 36 years.
William, Born at Richmond Yorkshire, Monday October 25th,
Baptized 19th November 1813, Died August 4th 1888, Age 75.
Elizabeth. Born at Malton, 21st June Baptized July 12th 1820
Married St. Martins in the Fields to Joseph Boden 22nd
Feby. 1841, Died 10th January 1860, age 39 years.
Buried at Tower Hamlets Cemetery.
John, Born at Malton, Tuesday 5th March, Baptized St. Michaels
Church, March 24, 1816.
William Robb married May 23rd 1836. Fanny Sarah Seager who was
born at St. Clements Danes Nov. 22nd, 1814.
Fanny Margaret Monteith, Born February 1838, Died February 1840
Age 2 years. Buried at Spa Fields, London.
William Henry, Born 7th April 1841,
Elizabeth Margaret, Born 1st Decr, 1843.
Matilda Fanny, Born 8th May, 1846.
Charles Edward, Born 22nd Jany, 1851.
Mother died 26th January 1851, buried at the Tabernacle
Tottenham Court Road.
Father married 5th June 1854 at St. Clement Danes to Marianne Mansfield Palmer who was born 4th December 1830 at Longton, Staffordshire.
Lydia Palmer, Born 13th July, 1855.
Alice Martha Stormont, Born 22nd Feb, 1857
Marianne Mansfield, Born 6th Dec. 1858.
Rose Emma Tunstall, Born 7th Dec. 1860
David Enoch, Born 2nd July 1863
Eliza Annie, Born 20th May 1865
Gertrude Constance, Born 31st Aug. 1867
Alexander George, Born 13th March 1870
Grace Amy, Born 14th August 1872
Arthur Ernest, Born 20th April, 1875.
Charles Edward Robb married at St. Lukes Church, Victoria Docks
16th Dec. 1877.
Louisa Bowman, Daughter of John Bowman of St. Georges in the
East, Born 29th Sept. 1856. Died 8th June 1905, Buried
City of London Cemetery, Ilford, Age 48 years.
Charles William, Born 23rd Oct. 1878, Died at Aden Dec. 1904,
Joseph John. Born Saturday 7th Feb. 1880
David Edward Born Tuesday 29th Nov. 1881.
Louisa Jane Maria, Born Friday 16th May 1884
Thomas Bowman, Born Thursday 20th Jan, 1887.
Marion Fanny, Born Saturday 2nd March 1889, died April 1st 1905,
age 16 years, buried City of London Cemetery, Ilford.
Fanny Sarah, born Saturday 15th Aug. 1891, died Nov.5th 1891
Age 2 mns, 21 days. Buried City of London Cemetery, Ilford.
Caroline Emma, born Thursday 25th May 1893.
Robert Henry, born Thursday 6th June 1895, died Sunday June 9th
Age 3 days.
Arthur Ernest, Born Thursday 11 Feb. 1897.